How Much Is Enough?

This Christmas, we had a very good turnout at church.  By our standards.  Which is to say that it looked like a full church.  I was happy with the turnout.  But all this is relative.  It is a small church.  Even if it were packed, attendance would have been few by standards of mainline churches. But compared to other Christmases, and compared to regular Sunday attendance, it was a good turnout.

This kind of thinking can be translated to other areas.  I think of the music business.  I know of a band in Canada which I like very much.  They fill smaller concert halls, and play festivals, but not stadiums.  They even have a Juno award, which is Canada’s equivalent to the US Grammy. They could play to packed bars every night if they wanted to, an opportunity which many good bands would envy.  I don’t think they have a gold record.  Most likely not a platinum record.  If you are a musician, how would you measure success. How much is enough?  Stadiums?  Platinum records?  Airplay?  Filling concert halls?  Playing to packed bars.  Playing enough venues to pay the bills?  Then there is the issue of how long your popularity would last.  Some immensely popular rappers, with platinum records, are gone in a year or two.  There is a new guitar player in town who is having a hard time breaking into the music scene.  But he plays better than anyone else in town.  It’s just that he’s new.

Then there are likes, follows, visits, and views for bloggers.  How many are enough?  25?  50?  150?  1,000?  4,500?  Do you write with an eye to posts that will attract views, visits, likes, and follows?

These issues arise in still more areas–money, possessions, status, friends, prestige, education, popularity.  How much is enough?

I think that the only way to maintain sanity, is to do what Emerson, Thoreau, and Frost, among others, have advocated for.  Follow your own music, march to the beat of your own drummer.  The new guitar player in town plays incredibly well to nearly empty bars.  I know of a preacher who conducted a service for one person, and of some synagogues that can’t open the Torah, because they don’t have a quorum present.  This does not indicate the quality of the performance, message, or belief system.  We write, preach, or play best when we do our best, and not worry too much about how much or many fans, congregants, or follows we have.

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